Men and woman look at things
differently, experience humor differently. So, how can we appreciate gender
differences in humor? Is there any hope?
Furthermore, how can humor be an
opportunity to foster a greater understanding between the sexes? Are there
differences that we do not want to appreciate, differences that, in fact, may
be harmful to healthy relationships?
Humor can be a means to become
closer to people, a tool for creating healthy relationships. As a form of
communication, humor can be used constructively to build self-esteem or can be
used to undermine it. It can serve as the road to reconciliation and an
appreciation of the differences between men and women or it can provide
ammunition for the battle of the sexes.
Humor can be a bonding experience,
a sharing of experience, creating a sense of belonging, a sense of partnership.
As a form of self-presentation and expression of cleverness, humor can be a
valuable form of entertainment for the entertainer and the entertainee, a means for laughing, playing, and having fun
together. It also can serve as an expression of love, a building block in the
foundation for fun-loving, passionate, committed relationships.
In the words of the Russian
novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky: “If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and
get to know someone, don’t bother analyzing their ways of being silent, of
talking, of weeping, or seeing how much they are moved by noble ideas; you’ll
get better results if you just watch them laugh. If they laugh well, they’re
good people” (adapted to inclusive language).
Actor Joanne Woodward has another
take on the importance of humor in relationships: “Sexiness wears thin after a
while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every
day, ah, now that’s a real treat.” Woodward has been married for forty-six
years to my favorite blue-eyed actor, social activist and entrepreneur, Paul
“While attending a marriage seminar
on communication, my husband and I listened to the instructor declare, ‘It is
essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each
other.’ He addressed the men. ‘Can you describe your wife’s goals, her dreams?
Do you know her favorite song, her favorite flower?’ My husband leaned over,
touched my arm tenderly and whispered, ‘Pillsbury All-Purpose, isn’t it?’”